‘Pashkevilim’ call for protests against Women of Wall

Wall notices in Jerusalem haredi neighborhoods call for ultra-Orthodox to "save the Kotel" from the Women of the Wall.

Wall notice against Women of the Wall 370 (photo credit: Itai Orion)
Wall notice against Women of the Wall 370
(photo credit: Itai Orion)
Pashkevilim, or wall notices, have been posted around haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem calling on men and women to demonstrate against the Women of the Wall activist group on Tuesday when the organization will be holding its regular prayer service for the new month.
“Save the Western Wall from being trampled and desecrated at the hands of a group of women called ‘Women of the Wall’ who want to desecrate the Wall on Tuesday, the new month of Nissan at 7:00 in the morning,” the pashkevil reads.
“Male and female worshipers, please come to the prayer service for the new month on this day to protest against the desecration of the holy...anyone for whom this place is important should come to protest and to call out.”
The Women of the Wall organization, which seeks to obtain the right to hold pluralistic Jewish prayer services for women at the Western Wall, sent photographs of the notices from various locations in the city to the press on Sunday.
The group holds prayer services at the Western Wall celebrating the beginning of every new month.
Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman filed a request with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Israel Police Ch.-Insp. Yohanan Danino over the notices, asking for their provenance to be investigated. In the request, Hoffman alleges that the notices constitute incitement to violence and could lead to ultra-Orthodox extremists attacking the group.
“Notices of this kind, which have been published in the past have led haredi extremists to act with severe violence and even attempt murder,” Hoffman wrote.
She said that the police needed to act decisively in order to prevent disturbances or violence at their Tuesday prayer service.
In a statement to the media, the Women of the Wall said they were calling on the Israeli public to “join the struggle to free the Western Wall from the hands of the haredim.”
Hoffman said that the site could be a place where “every Jew, male and female, from all Jewish denominations can feel at home and not in a haredi synagogue.”
The Regulations for the Protection of Holy Places to the Jews of 1981 forbid performing religious ceremonies “not according to local custom” or which “may hurt the feelings of the worshipers” at the site.
In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Women of the Wall to pray at the Western Wall according to their custom, but in the same decision ruled that this right was “not an unlimited right” and that the rights of others who might be offended by different customs should also be protected, as well as emphasizing the importance of maintaining order and preventing violence at the site.
The police have interpreted the law in recent years as allowing women to wear colorful tallitot, or prayer shawls, around their shoulders, which police refer to as “female-style tallitot,” while prohibiting the use by women of larger “male-style tallitot,” which are blue and white or black and white, and worn folded across the shoulders. In recent months, women wearing such tallitot have been detained by the police.
The regulations also prohibit the performance of other practices and ceremonies usually conducted by men, including wearing tefillin, reading aloud from the Torah and other Jewish observances.